USNS Spearhead, the first joint high speed vessel to be delivered to the Military Sealift Command, arriving at Naval Station Mayport on Feb. 14. (MC3 Damian Berg / U.S. Navy)
WASHINGTON — Taking note of the new ship’s unique qualities, the chief of naval operations has added the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program to the portfolio of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Council, a three-star panel overseeing developments of these evolutionary craft.
“Fully exploiting the potential of the JHSV will require a similar cross-cutting effort” to the efforts being made in the LCS program, Adm. Jonathan Greenert said in a March 11 memo directing the addition.
The JHSV, he said in the memo, has a reconfigurable payload capacity and high speed like the LCS, and “can be employed in similar environments for similar missions.”
Greenert created the LCS council was created last August to oversee development and fielding of the LCS ships and their mission modules.
Chaired by Vice Adm. Rick Hunt, director of the Navy Staff, the original council members included Vice Adm. Mark Skinner, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition; Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander, Naval Surface Forces; and Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command.
With the addition of the JHSV, the commander of the Military Sealift Command (MSC), Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, now has a permanent seat on the council.
Unlike the Navy-manned LCS, the JHSVs will be crewed by civilians, either government employees or contractors, but all managed by MSC.
The Navy plans to build ten JHSVs to an aluminum catamaran design, built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. Spearhead, the first ship, was delivered on Dec. 5 and arrived at its home base of Little Creek, Va., on Feb. 16 to begin operations.
A second ship, the Choctaw County, is expected to be delivered this summer to MSC, with the Millinocket to follow later this year.
Three LCSs are in service, with a fourth to be delivered later this year, also from Austal USA.